New Clause 7 - Retail licence for sale of tobacco, vaping and nicotine products

Part of Tobacco and Vapes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 14 May 2024.

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Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (Primary Care and Public Health) 2:30, 14 May 2024

I do not have much to add, but note that when the Bill was introduced some in the tobacco industry lobbied MPs to include a licensing scheme for vapes only. It would be an egregious situation if we were to take a stronger stance on vapes than on tobacco, which is the real killer. I suspect they hoped for the inclusion of something like that primarily because it would slow the Bill down. I thank the hon. Member for Harrow East for tabling a more balanced new clause, which would introduce licensing schemes for tobacco products as well as for nicotine products and vapes.

I have some questions for the Minister. Will she set out why the Government have not opted to set up a licensing scheme for tobacco and vapes? We have a licensing scheme for alcohol in England and Wales, but the Government have never sought to extend it to tobacco, although it would help us to identify shops that sell the products and streamline our enforcement efforts. I appreciate that many of sanctions related to licensing that are often cited, such as the power to take a licence away, are perhaps a less strong argument in relation to this Bill, because we have restricted premises and restricted sales orders, but I am interested in the Minister’s views.

On illicit products, the Government have introduced a track and trace system for tobacco, which is a useful component in monitoring the flow and patterns in the trade in tobacco products around the country. Given the improved provisions for product IDs, which will come into effect for products entering the country when the new vaping excise duty is introduced, we remarked in Committee that this could be an opportunity to look at setting up something similar for nicotine and vaping products.

I fully appreciate the concern of the hon. Member for Harrow East that enforcement will be crucial to the Bill’s success, but my view is that our priority must be to make a success of the enforcement regime that the Bill introduces before considering the case for further regulation. There probably will be a case for further regulation in future.